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Sarah Gordon Education. (2012) Book TV at the University of Pennsylvania Sarah Gordon, 'The Spirit of the Law Religious Voices and the Constitution in Modern America.'

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Pennsylvania 7, America 6, Athenaeum 5, California 4, Gordon 3, Beverly Lahaye 3, Atheneum 2, Sarah Behringer Gordon 2, United States 2, U.s. 2, The City 2, Connecticut 2, The Providence 2, Sarah Gordon 2, Massachusetts 2, Jehovah 2, Frances Whelan 1, Cantwell 1, Kenneth Childs 1, Tim 1,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Sarah Gordon  Education.  (2012) Book TV at the  
   University of Pennsylvania Sarah Gordon, 'The Spirit of the Law...  

    January 6, 2013
    12:30 - 1:00am EST  

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track. buddy use that to kind of end their coup once he took over the city council and the "l.a. times" came to town and did a feature about him. he said that, in the general population, something like one in 10,000 on the providence city council it's one in it. the genius of buddy was he could connect with people. he had charm. he had charisma. he could walk into a room but there were hot 100 people there, 91 loves him. he would go to the one that hated him and try to win them over. invariably he could. he would show up in any event. i remember being a young reporter at the providence journal not covering buddy of the time or covering city hall. i was in in another reporter's backyard cookout on the summer and we were sitting around drinking beer and buddy pulled up in his limousine as the mayor and he shows up in the party. it wasn't just a politician making a token appearance. he was there for hours in one of the last persons to leave.
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that kind of charm, he was a champion of providence. the city was a drowned -- downtrodden city. he would go on national tv and go on the dawn show when it was really popular and sing the city's praises. people loved him for that. they figured we have ours had corruption but at least he made us feel good about ourselves. he help but providence back on the map. so that is why people loved him. >> for more information on booktv's recent visit to providence rhode island and the many other cities those visited by local content videos go to c-span.org/localcontent. now on booktv sarah gordon talks about religious cases in u.s. history to transform the laws of the country and eliminated protection to religion in the u.s. constitution. this interview part of
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booktv's college series was recorded at the university of pennsylvania will -- pennsylvania. it's about 20 minutes. >> university of pennsylvania professor sarah gordon, "the spirit of the law" is her most recent book. what do you mean when you talk about the old constitutional world and the new constitutional world when it comes to religion? >> guest: well, for most of her nation's history with the states rather than federal government that controlled access to religious worship, the rights of religious organization and so on, and in the early decades of the 20 century that began to shift. the supreme court applied the national constitutional establishment and exercise clauses of the first amendment against the state, sort of centralizing debates about religion. >> host: but if the states for control, we had it written into
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our constitution, freedom of religion. >> guest: we did indeed that the first amendment began, congress shall i not know love so it was addressed only to the national government. >> host: were there restrictions based on religion? >> guest: of cody if there were. several states had religion establishments. some tax religious property. others band giving groups practices. i'm thinking for example eventually of various states in the southwest banning polygamy for example. >> host: so when it came to massachusetts, talk about massachusetts or pennsylvania. we are here in pennsylvania -- that's a case study of states regulating religion. >> guest: sure. pennsylvania for example had an act of blasphemy law which would now think of as starkly unconstitutional and the last
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case that was brought, the last criminal prosecution under blasphemy law was actually blocked in the early 1970s kind of by accident against someone who had a sign in his window saying, wanted, radical carpenter, speaks to crowd teaching peace and of course this person meant jesus but someone walking past.it meant -- and the american civil union got involved and it was dropped. more recently a film company owner tried to name his company i choose hell productions and was denied under, tonight in corporations under the states corporation laws because it was the blasphemous title for the company. that too eventually was
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dismissed. >> host: professor gordon why did it start to change in the early 20th century? >> guest: i think for several different reasons. one, especially with the growth of the federal government in the new deal era, and the other really was that the embrace of migration and pluralism. immigration began to cease a little bit after the restrictive immigration act of the early 20th century ended in the new deal forced so many people on to the move, looking for work, having much greater contact with government and the expansion of government power really highlighted the friction between a bigger government and the lives of believers. so there was a lot more attention. >> host: you write about --
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what is the role of the salvation army in changing religious laws in america i guess? >> guest: well, the salvation army which many people don't realize is an evangelical religious group, not just a group that rings bells outside department stores in the christmas season. the salvation army believed what they called the cathedral of the open air and would go into areas, especially impoverished areas, and have parades and make lots of noise with brass bands and symbols and loud preaching, trying to attract especially the urban poor back into religious life. this came up against requirements in many cities that any parade be a affirmative. the salvation army made it a practice not to apply for permits and to be arrested,
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often playing there and cements on way into the cells and challenging these laws of anti-religious. they won a lot of them. they also lost a lot of them so they kind of destabilize the law of the state's by challenging these restrictions. they never really made it to the supreme court of the united states though because the states were still in power. >> host: professor gordon wended the first major religious case come before the supreme court? >> guest: cases from the federal territories had come in the 19th century by especially utah of polygamy but from the states, the really major cases made it to the supreme court in the late 1930's and early 1940s, really that new deal era. they tended not so much to be the salvation army that the jehovah's witnesses who also cause a lot of trouble. >> host: what was one of those cases? walk us through.
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>> guest: well, very interesting case called cantwell against connecticut involved a group of witnesses who had gone into the catholic neighborhood in new haven on a sunday morning and began playing anti-catholic records on portable phonographs and distributing literature. they were arrested for disturbing the peace and preaching without a permit, and appeal their case all the way to the supreme court. which said that because connecticut said well, individual city administrators would decide what a valid program was for religious organizations and would allow them or not onto the streets, they said that allows too much discretion by the state government, and they applied for the first time part of that first amendment the free exercise clause against the
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state of connecticut and overturn their law that allowed city officials to license are or not as they saw fit. >> host: into that lead to any nationwide movements or was it a well publicized case? >> guest: it was a relatively well publicized case. the really big movement came when jehovah's witnesses challenged laws requiring schoolchildren to salute the flag every morning and say the pledge of allegiance. at first they lost when they got to the supreme court. and in 1940 they lost the case. that got a lot of attention and after that violence broke out against witnesses all across the country, three years later the supreme court changed its mind. and said you know we may be interested in patriotism and national unity but not by --
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[inaudible] >> host: most classes begin with the pledge of allegiance. if a child wants to sit during that kenneth childs said legally? >> guest: indeed they are constitutionally protected in their right not to have to say the pledge of allegiance, yes. >> host: "the spirit of the law," tim and -- my hey who are they white or they occupy a good portion of your book? >> guest: 's tim and beverly lahaye are less well-known than they should be. they actually were involved in very important religious movements from the 1960s through the very late 1990s. they were part of a research and evangelical culture. they, like so many other southern evangelicals, migrated to california, set up mega-churches, educational institutions and eventually became differently involved in politics.
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beverly lahaye who is a particular interest of mine in this book, founded a group called concerned women for america which still claims to be the largest women's political organization in the united states. she based her organization on five spiritual principles, the bible, the family, patriotism, the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of life and she began to litigate, arguing that religious parents should have more control for example over what their children were taught in school, arguing that the era, the equal rights amendment for women was a violation of the fundamental order of things, and winning many of these cases. >> host: did you interview her for your book? >> guest: i did not. she retired about, almost 15 years ago now and lives in
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california. >> host: somebody would have liked to have talked to? >> guest: i very much would like to talk to her and one of the things that's really important is that an organization like ers, which was so involved, so foundational to conservative women, political activism, if papers are not deposited anywhere, they are not available to be read. other women, phyllis schlafly who ended up a much smaller organization, talks to everybody. and really some unlike beverly lahaye and concerned women for america deserve more attention and for posterity should deposit their papers somewhere where scholars can read them. >> host: sarah behringer gordon is a professor of law and a professor of history at the university of pennsylvania. this is her most recent book, "the spirit of the law"
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religious voices and the constitution in modern america, harvard university press. she is also the author of the mormon question and you refer to polygamy a couple of times in our short discussion here. with that -- was that the issue about the mormons, that really kind of got under people's skin and? >> guest: it was the most prominent one. there were others and in some ways if you think, say, questions of access to public places or religious speech in life as a key to the 20th century, then the 19th century, the really big question was would mormons be allowed to redefine marriage for themselvee legal system enough so that
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polygamy would be recognized and protected as a valid form of marriage by the secular legal system, not just by the church itself. >> host: are there parallels to gay marriage today? >> guest: there have been substantial parallels. one of the key issues for mormon apologists as well as for their opponents was the question of statehood for utah. it became pretty clear early on in american history that states have substantial control over marriage within their borders. as we are seeing being fought out in in the marriage equality debates today. and utah pushed again and again for statehood and was denied again and again in large part because of this question of polygamy. the federal government had much more control over territorial governance then it does
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overstate government. so yes, there is a big issue about how much control states have over marriage. was polygamy foundation and lessening that control? at the time, the debate was no, it wasn't. it was about keeping utah out of statehood and in less we see a transformative supreme court opinion, which may happen, especially from the california cases, it's still within stay control. >> host: sarah behringer gordon you have a fourth book called -- where'd you get interested in the subject of law? >> guest: well i became deeply interested when i was thinking about applying to graduate school and i was torn. did i want to go to seminary or to law school? and for family reasons, has been
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one to relocating connecticut, i want up in law school rather than in seminary and was delighted when i discovered that i could do a joint decree with the divinity school at a failed and thought i have been trading off one interest against the other and discovered thanks to the availability of entered disciplinary training, that i could actually combine by interest. so i started in around 1982 -- i am in my 30th year -- working in this field and find myself still fascinated and still intrigued, and dedicated to thinking deeply about the relationship between law and religion. >> host: where was this picture from on the cover? >> guest: oh, this is outside the united states supreme court, and it was taken on that day
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that a challenge to the pledge of allegiance, not the requirement that students say it, but the insertion of the words under god into the pledge of allegiance which happened actually in the 1950's in part of the cold war pushback against communist atheism, and this is a bishop of the small denomination actually from poughkeepsie new york. they are praying for the protection of public acknowledgment of god outside the supreme court on the day the case was argued. behind her you see two guards, looking far less dramatic than she does. i don't know if you can see where she is actually weeping as she prays, and it's a very dynamic picture. i was thrilled to see it on the
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cover. >> host: professor gordon some of the cases we hear about today include nativity scene, the 10 commandments. is there a national standard yet on nativity scenes and the 10 commandments? >> guest: there are many national standards. i think sometimes they disagree with each other. the basic rule seems to be that if it's just the 10 commandments that violates the establishment clause, but if a nativity scene or the 10 commandments or a menorah are combined with other things illustrating not just religious commitments but broad commitments of the american people, then they have a far better chance of surviving. the other thing that does seem to happen is, if they have been there for a long time, if they
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are part of historic architecture or in a museum for example, exhibited for the beauty of the art as well as the message, then that is also probably okay. >> host: blood if but if any supreme court cases do you see, do you foresee coming? >> guest: that's a tough question. historians are reluctant to predict. one of the things we see happening across the country is schism, especially in major protestant denominations, enigmatic groups, methodist, episcopalian, presbyterian and non-demo line are fighting with each other about the sanctity of things like relationships. further back but still bitter about the ordination of women and we see litigation in every
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state and differing standards apply by differing states as to whether a preceding group can take its property with it or not have opinions from south carolina, california, virginia, massachusetts, connecticut. i could go down the line. these are very high ticket itemf real estate involved that is worth many tens of millions of dollars each. the episcopal church for example spending many millions of dollars every year just on lawyers fees, so these are difficult questions and they are affecting very long-standing denominations across america. these are tough questions. >> host: sarah barrington
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gordon is professor of constitutional law and history at the university of pennsylvania in philadelphia and the author most recently of this book, "the spirit of the law" religious voices and the constitution in modern america. >> guest: thank you so much. up next week for for the start billing and special collections of the -- >> to climb up those steps and make your way in and then to arrive at the top of the steps and see the mezzanine filled
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with books and the bus, it's inspiring. i love when we have visitors that come in for the first time. they walk in the front door and usually if it's someone that is new to the building the first thing i hear is a giant oh and then the next work out of their mouth is oh my goodness, this is what a library should look like. part of what i find, sometimes overwhelming but totally gratifying is that this institution has existed for hundreds of years and every day when i come into work i get to contribute to history. the atheneum is this wonderful -- in the historic providence. we are one of about 17 membership libraries that exist in the country today. i am actually proud to say the providence of atheneum is one of two libraries in rhode island.
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we have a sister organization that actually predates us in newport. that is the library and athenaeum. the word athenaeum comes from the reg idea of learning and it's so fitting that architecture is based on the greek revival style words the temple of learning but athenaeum was a place where people came to converse and talk about their ideology, their theology, their learning, their science and exploration. and it was really a convenient place for learning. it still is today. we trace our history back to 1753, when the library company formed by the merchants and the men of the day to form a library greater than any one individual could. they did that in order to share
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resources and at that time the city was growing and they wanted to make that information available to all. so, the providence library company exists in many places throughout the city, often being at the seat of town government and they purchased their materials from england. their original collection was about 345 titles and they unfortunately had a tragic event in the late 1700's where there is a fire on christmas eve and out of those 345 titles they originally purchased they lost many in the fire. except for 70 there were still in circulation. we actually have some of that founding collection. what's really and just adjusting is they had the foresight to make a notation so that the new they were following the original founding collection and as it they got back into library. so as you see closely up on the
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top there is a tiny little asterisk. they made that notation in the original register and they also made it on the book because they were looking to, and we continue to, try to replace the original volumes as they become available. so, they were tracking them early on. they went on and ended up still purchasing more folks in different buildings throughout the city. later, in the 1800's there was another organization called the providence athenaeum that formed in 1831. in 1836, the athenaeum providence was formed as a result of these two organizations, and we ended up with an arcade downtown for a couple of years while this property was being built on the
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corner. then we moved in here and 1838 and we opened our doors to what was the marketplace at that time. frances whelan, the former president of brown university, gave his discourse saying the doors are wide open and the crowd has gathered. he is talking about labor for the east side, the west side, the south side and the northside but for the city of providence so that all may partake. and so we stayed treated that mission. the historical significance of this building is really quite profound. the building itself, the original building, was built in 1838. the architect was william strickland, who was a young architect, really one of the early founders of the american institute for architects and this is one of his only examples
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of greek revival architecture here in the city. the athenaeum is special in many ways. i think is special obviously from what you see visually. this is just an amazing . i always refer to it as inspired and while the fevers cannot experience actually being there visually, there is there's just a real smell of old books and leather and i always liken it to frankincense and murder but it's a very personal , and i think people come for that sense of the building. i think they come because it's a real sense of community. we don't have library cards. it's almost like cheers where everybody knows your name when you walk into the building.
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we are not necessarily the quietest library either because the circulation desk is located in the center of the and we are always seeing old friends as they come in. we actually predated the public library movement when the providence library company was formed. it was based on the benjamin franklin idea where the company's founding fathers actually had a company and they bought shares. they invested in that and use those pooled resources to purchase their books. the earlier organization also had done a similar thing so basically when we were organized we room a membership-based library so the members of that organization purchase shares and they made those available to their families and so forth. when the public library movement came into being that horse they were using resources from the community and public monies to support those libraries. membership libraries are still
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supported by members so we consider ourselves an independent member supported library open to the public. so that means all of our funding, like public libraries, basically comes from our own resources. we are fortunate that the people that started this institution years and years ago thought to steward it as well and so we do have an endowment which we rely on but most of our financial means comes from the members themselves and they purchase a membership. so while we are open to the public, people can come in and utilizes and enjoy the , come to programs but if they want to actually arra will book, then they would purchase a membership fee. that is really our financial model along with much fundraising. we have several thousand members today. as far as the type of person

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